By no means am I a Raider Hater; I'm just stating my opinions and beliefs on what needs to be done in order for the Raiders to have a legitimate shot at the division:
1. The offense needs to be improved
The Raiders averaged 16.4 points per game last season which was 29th overall in the NFL. The Raiders total offense was 29th in NFL (272.2 yards per game). Their passing attack was a league worse at 148.1 yards per game. However, the running attack was impressive as it placed in the top 10 with an average of 124.2 yards per game.
JaMarcus Russell is the reason for concern. Russell struggled in his first full season as the Raiders quarterback, throwing for 2,423 yards with 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Russell in his first year struggled holding onto the ball, as he fumbled 12 times and constantly seemed as if he was unaware of the blitz.
In order for the Raiders to have some shot at challenging San Diego and Denver, Russell needs to step up his level of play. He needs to become the leader of the offense, he needs to develop some discipline. Russell has the talent to be a solid quarterback, but in order to be somebody he needs to step it up.
The wide receivers on the team also need to find a way to step up their level of play. Averaging 16 points and 272 total yards a game is not going to cut it in the NFL. The talent is definitely there, just the discipline is absent.
2. The defense needs to stop the run
Nnamdi Asomugha did his job last year by recording 40 tackles with one interception last year. Asomugha is a class-act kind of guy who is clearly emerging as a leader on defense. Derrick Burgess continued to play competitively last year, but the Raiders as a whole failed to stop the run.
Take week four against the Chargers last year as a prime example of how the defense seems to run out of gas in the second half. Up 15 at halftime, the Raiders allowed the charges to score 25 points in the fourth quarter. LaDainian Tomlinson ran all over the Raiders in the second half and the Chargers ran at will against the Raiders weak run defense.
If the Raiders can improve on stopping the run, then look for them to win those close and sometimes upsetting games.
3. The team must find a leader
It could be the coach, it could be the quarterback. It could even be Al Davis. Davis fired Lane Kiffin after a poor start last season. Davis has had a number of different coaches. Bill Callahan, Norv Turner, Art Shell are the coaches who failed to produce wins.
Tom Cable seems like a decent coach, who seems to have the respect of his players. Al Davis really needs to swallow his ego and allow his coaching staff to run the team as they see fit. Leadership is extremely valuable and necessary when it comes to sports. If the Oakland Raiders find a leader then look for a competitive team in 2009.
In general, I'd like to say thank you to all those who take the time to read and leave comments. I appreciate everyone's opinions and I hope you continue reading.